Published on 3/6/2013
By Chris Sokoloski
Seven teams ranked in the top five in the state in Class AAA and AAAA are coming to Mike Johnson Park in Georgetown for the 23rd annual International Paper Baseball Classic.
The tournament features Georgetown, A.C. Flora, St. James and Greenville in the Class AAA bracket, and Conway, Lexington, Mauldin and Wando in the Class AAAA bracket.
"It's very much a challenge to get ready for four games in a row Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday," said Georgetown High coach Mike Johnson. "It takes a lot of making sure you've got a lot of things covered because of all the things you'll be thrown at as a team."
The Bulldogs have never won the IP Classic, although they were runners-up once.
Georgetown went winless at last year's tournament.
"We had three great games, and one game we just fell apart," Johnson said. "We feel like we're very competitive."
Lexington won last year's tournament, sweeping its three games and outscoring opponents 28-6.
Returning this year with the Wildcats are Cody Smith (#4), last year's IP Classic most valuable player, and Nick Ciuffo (#14), who won last year's IP Classic home run derby.
"The IP is a tournament that were just honored to be a part of," said Lexington coach Brian Hucks, who told his players "ya'll are gonna be blown away with what the community of Georgetown does for us."
According to Hucks, other players to watch for Wildcats are outfielder Ryan Brown (#3), and pitchers Josh Reagan (#5) and Cole McMillan (#19).
After losing to Lexington in last year's IP Classic championship, A.C. Flora went on to win the Class AAA state championship.
The Falcons have won three state titles and five Lower State titles since 2001.
"It's a humbling experience to be invited to Georgetown," said head coach Andy Hallett.
According to Hallett, players to watch for the Falcons are: pitchers Matt Wallace (#19) and Davis Funderburk (#16), first baseman Jake Lewis (#11), and outfielder Schroder Carlton (#1).
St. James won the Class AAA state championship in 2011.
According to head coach Robbie Centracchio, players to watch for the Sharks are outfielder Caleb Duggan (#1), pitcher Anders DeShields (#24), first baseman and pitcher Skylar Hays (#28) and outfielder Carter Brakefield (#17).
Conway won the Class AAAA Lower State title in 2008.
According to head coach Anthony Carroll, the players to watch for the Tigers are: shortstop and pitcher Jordan Gore (#10), catcher G.K. Young (#29), and pitcher and Grant Holmes (#14).
Mauldin won a Class AAAA state title in 2004 and a Lower State title in 2005.
According to coach Jim Maciejewski, players to watch for the Mavericks are: shortstop and pitchers Cory Thompson (#12) and Brandon Justice (#18), and first baseman Ramon Osuna (#19).
Greenville won the Class AAA state title in 2005.
According to head coach Steve Scolamiero, the players to watch for the Red Raiders are: third baseman Glenn Batson (#15), first baseman and pitcher John Parke (#13), pitcher and outfielder Clark Scolamiero (#5) and shortstop Grant Cox (#12).
Wando won a Class AAAA Lower State title in 2009.
According to coach Dirk Thomas, the players to watch for the Warriors are: first baseman and pitcher Michael Carpin (#15), catcher and outfielder Babe Thomas (#8), and outfielder Trevor Pedersen (#6).
Hallet said the tournament "tells you everything you wanted to know about your team right out for the gate."
"It shows us thing that we've got to get better at if we want to go deep into the playoffs," Johnson said.
"It's a who's who's in high school baseball," Hucks said. "We'll bang heads and see who's going to prevail."
This year's schedule is:
Thursday: 2 p.m., Lexington vs. Mauldin; 4:15 p.m., Georgetown vs. St. James; 6:30 p.m., Wando vs. Conway; 8:45 p.m., Greenville vs. A.C. Flora.
Friday: 10:30 a.m., Conway vs. Lexington; 1 p.m., St. James vs. Greenville; 3:30 p.m., Mauldin vs. Wando; 6 p.m., opening ceremonies, home run derby and base running contest; 7:30 p.m., Georgetown vs. A.C. Flora.
Saturday: 8:30 a.m., Conway vs. Mauldin; 11 a.m., St. James vs. A.C. Flora; 1:30 p.m., Wando vs. Lexington; 4 p.m., Georgetown vs. Greenville; 6:30 p.m., consolation game.
Sunday: 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., consolation games; 3 p.m., championship game.